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Commentary: Love sprouts in Berkeley, blossoms in CdM

December 13, 2012|By Steven Hendlin | By Steven Hendlin

It was August 1977 and my plan was to drive up to the Bay Area for three back-to-back national psychology conferences, followed by a week-long meditation workshop with Tarthang Tulku in Berkeley.

I'd recently become licensed as a psychologist at age 28, after earning my marriage and family therapy license at the tender age of 26. Having opened the doors of my private practice in Orange County, I was off and running in an effort to establish myself.

In the lingo of author Carlos Castaneda, I considered Berkeley, and the campus in particular, a "power spot" where good things happened. Having graduated seven years earlier, I'd immersed myself in the hippie zeitgeist of the time: sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, spiced up with radical politics.


It was during the last of the conferences, held on the campus, that my life changed forever.

After a day of workshops, an evening dance with a live band was scheduled in the auditorium above Sproul Plaza. Just a few minutes after the music begins, I'm standing along a wall, scoping out the scene, as bodies are swaying on the floor dancing. About 30 feet in front of me, I'm suddenly riveted by a gorgeous woman with thick, long, curly dark hair flowing down her back. She has an hour-glass figure, juicy lips and a smile that looks like it could precipitate global warming. She has just brushed off a guy asking her to dance. Without hesitation or thought, I walk over to her and smile.

"You're beautiful." She smiles.

"Are you Jewish?" She nods her head.

"I'm going to marry you." She blushes slightly and giggles.

For a couple minutes, I then move my arms in Tai Chi movements to the pulse of the music. Deborah follows my lead and moves with me. Something bigger than the both of us is happening.

"Let's get out of here," I say.

She follows me out and we walk a short distance down Telegraph Avenue to a restaurant called the Bear's Lair. As we're walking, I take her hand, and we both feel a current through our bodies. After we sit down in a booth, I pull out a vita from my brief case and hand it to her.

"This is who I am," I say, thinking my accomplishments will do my talking for me. In her conference dorm room, on a single bed, we begin the dialogue-dance of getting to know each other that lasts through the night. The second night, she calls her parents and tells them she's met "the one."

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